Penguin Notes: Despres back? Crosby’s goal? Deadline looms


**How much more Olympics do we have to take? Paul Martin is reportedly out for a month with a broken hand. Talk is Simon Despres needs to be recalled. Mark Madden of WXDX-FM said he heard from sources Friday that Despres isn’t in Pittsburgh’s long-term plan because he’s a “whiner.” Madden said he had additional information on Despres but wouldn’t share it with his listeners.


**Sunday is a big game for Sidney Crosby. If he doesn’t score, it will follow him around until the 2018 Olympics. I’m not saying that will put Crosby in a new bad light, but not scoring at least one time in Sochi will be a topic. Here’s hoping Sir Sidney flicks a backhander past King Henrik in the first minute of Sunday’s tilt.


**The Pens have only six healthy defensemen on their roster: Robert Bortuzzo, Deryk Engelland, Olli Maatta, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Rob Scuderi. The team’s puck-moving capabilities are crippled with Martin out. Despres is likely on his way. Can the team afford to move him at the deadline? Such a scenario seemed likely before the Olympics break, but not now.


**Brian Dumoulin remains sidelined in the AHL with a leg injury deemed week-to-week. Dumoulin played pretty well earlier in the season for the Pens. He would be on a short list of callups if further blue line injuries strike (and he recovers from injury). Philip Samuelsson is another possibility.


Defenseman Scott Harrington gives Pittsburgh an interesting defensive option. While it’s unusual for a first-year guy to contribute, Harrington comes with a strong pedigree and it worked for the London Knights, Olli Maatta. The Pens are in great position, 16 points up in the Met. They can take a small risk or two other teams cannot.


**Let’s hope the Olympians haven’t forgotten how to score. Geesh, Maatta has potted more goals than Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin combined (Sunday not included, obviously).


**The Martin injury puts a damper on the Pens’ trade deadline considerations, especially on top of the Kris Letang stroke news. I have a feeling this is going to be a really interesting next couple weeks – just wish the Pens were in a better health position to make a move.


**James Neal said he spent his break on the beach and didn’t skate. So long as he remembers how to shoot he’ll be okay.


**Losing to Finland on Saturday would crush Pens coach Dan Bylsma. Not to medal after such an amazing Olympics run would be very disappointing.


**A number of folks have noted how assistant Team USA coach, Peter Laviolette, has done well matching lines. That’s an area Pittsburgh could improve upon. Hopefully coach Bylsma can see how invaluable Laviolette has been in this area and matches lines more often. It’s one of the Pens’ biggest weaknesses, and it’s something that can be addressed.

**It’s good that forward Taylor Pyatt (lower body) was back at practice Friday. Truth be told, I’d almost forgotten he played for the Pens.


**I watched some of the third period of Game 6 in the 2007-08 Stanley Cup Final. Brooks Orpik laid a thunderous check on Detroit’s Johan Franzen, nearly driving him through the Pittsburgh goal next to Marc-Andre Fleury. Whether it’s age or whatever, Orpik just doesn’t have the capability to hit that way much anymore. What a terrifying weapon he was, one of the best in Penguins history.


Speaking of Fleury, he allowed a weak Game 6 third-period score by Henrik Zetterberg, initially stopping a slapper but then pushing the loose puck past the goal line off his rear end. Let’s hope he doesn’t lay another egg in 2013-14. He’s due for a big playoff series. Fingers crossed.

**I wonder why the NHL scheduled Carolina and Buffalo as the lone game Tuesday after the Olympics. Did no one from the league offices think any of their players would make the Olympics? The Pens, by comparison, are off until Thursday.

**Canadian fans have to be feeling pretty good right now. Four more years of hockey dominance and bragging rights over the United States. Well done.


On the Penguins: Shero non-committal (as always) about NHL’s trade deadline. Click here.


Treasure Life!


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